From DCist: An Oral History of the Nationals racing presidents, and a major first admission of conspiracy

DCist today published a wonderful Oral History of the Nationals Racing Presidents, lovingly curated by intrepid journalist Matt Blitz. including a first-ever formal admission by a team official that the fix was in for Teddy Roosevelt.

DCist Racing Presidents oral historyBlitz tells the history of the presidents race through interviews with many of the people behind the scenes and involved in its creation, revealing even a few things I hadn’t documented on our facts page, such as the inspiration that costume designer Randy Carfagno received from none other than Bette Midler.

But Blitz’s biggest “scoop” comes from Josh Golden, an ad agency executive who served as the Nats’ Director of Creative Services for the team’s first two seasons. “The first race we had George win, but we [decided] we didn’t want to go in order, so we skipped Teddy,” Golden told Blitz. “…people started emailing us, “Why hasn’t Teddy won?” There wasn’t a plan to [have Teddy lose] until those emails started coming in. By the fifth game, we had decided that Teddy isn’t going to win. Let’s make it a thing.”

Yikes. I may or may not have written a couple of those emails.

Great stuff and a worthy read.

After throwing in the towel on 2018, Washington Nationals let Teddy win

The Washington Nationals formally threw in the towel on the 2018 season Tuesday, then promptly let Teddy win.

125 games into the season, the once heavily-favored but snake bitten Nationals finally accepted the reality of their losing record and today announced trades of Daniel Murphy and Matt Adams — key players in the final year of their contracts — to the Cubs and Cardinals, while issuing a public statement of explanation and disappointment.

Teddy Roosevelt wins Nationals presidents raceThen, as if to send a message that all bets are off, they let Teddy win the presidents race.

It’s been many years now since Theodore Roosevelt’s initial epic 6 1/2 year losing streak was first broken, but Teddy returned to his consistent losing ways in 2016, and lost 86 straight heading into this year. When the Teddy won on opening day, it appeared that the team had a change of heart regarding the Bull Moose, but then the losing began again.

As chronicled in our season standings, Teddy’s misfortunes this season have been epic. He’s been slammed into the wall and attacked by swords multiple times. He’s been distracted by bowling, haircuts, hypnotism, picnics, selfies, penalty kicks, pet cats, bunnies, and the YMCA.

But after Nats ownership admitted to throwing in the towel on the playoffs, they perhaps superstitiously also took the handcuffs off Teddy, who raced from the back of the pack to run away with Tuesday’s race.

It’s too late for Roosevelt to catch Washington, Jefferson, or Lincoln in the standings, but Teddy, like the Nats, have six weeks left to regain respectability.

 

On opening day, Teddy Roosevelt breaks presidents race losing streak with help from an unlikely ally

Nationals Presidents Race Opening Day Abe Cheats Teddy WinsNationals Presidents Race Opening Day Abe Cheats Teddy WinsNationals Teddy Roosevelt Masters Green JacketOn a frigid opening day at Nationals Park, the Washington Nationals reversed course from last year and decided to let Teddy win, as racing president Theodore Roosevelt kicked off the season by snapping his multi-year, 86-game losing streak.

The MLB’s new pace-of-play initiatives leave little wiggle room for presidents race shenanigans, but the Nationals managed to squeeze in their fair share while Mets pitcher Jacob DeGrom warmed up for the bottom of the fourth inning.

Abe Lincoln parked himself on the sidelines under section 134 as Teddy, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson began the race. Teddy fell behind the pack entering the home stretch, but that’s when the Great Emancipator, who so often has been TR’s nemesis, jumped out and clocked both George and Tom, clearing the way for a Roosevelt victory.

After he crossed the finish line to the cheers of the sellout crowd, a Secret Service Agent handed Teddy a putter. The Bull Moose than tapped in a putt on a makeshift hole and was handed a green jacket to commemorate today’s opening round of the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia.

Video for Let Teddy Win courtesy of lfahome

Data visualization guru maps Nationals presidents race results, and it’s a beautiful thing

Every year at about this time, as I prepare to archive another year’s racing president standings, I ask myself whether it’s worth it to continue the blog. Then I meet somebody  — a loyal reader who’s a team employee or a descendant of Teddy Roosevelt. Or somebody like Mike Cisneros comes along.

Cisneros is a data visualization guru. He’s head of data visualization at Evince Analytics, and waxes poetic about the art on his personal blog. When Cisneros saw the conclusions drawn by Reddit user Constant Gardner11 yesterday, utilizing ten years of data compiled here at the Let Teddy Win blog, he decided a visualization was in order.

And while it’s a beautiful thing, a few mistakes were made. Roosevelt’s epic losing streak lasted seven seasons — not five (we did not publish race-by-race results for 2016-2017, but the standings are here). And Teddy’s historic first win was not in the playoffs, but on the final day of the 2012 regular season.

And so, feeling both inspired by the beautiful and creative use of our data, and also weirdly compelled to continue to set the record straight, I’ll see you on opening day.

Washington Nationals Racing Presidents Results Data visualization

Ten years of Washington Nationals Presidents Race Data as visualized by Mike Cisneros

Yankees fan runs the numbers, concludes Nats fans should root for George, opponents should root for Teddy

On Tuesday, Reddit user and Yankees fan Constant_Gardner11 posted a detailed analysis of presidents race results during the Nationals Park era, using data we’ve collected here at Let Teddy Win. His conclusion: Nats fans should root for George Washington. Nats’ opponents should root for Teddy.

The many comments from the Reddit community show that conspiracy theories about Teddy Roosevelt remain prominent in the public eye. Of course, rooting for Teddy may be a moot point, since the powers-that-be in the Nationals front office have clearly decided never to let Teddy win again. The Bull Moose went winless last year (which didn’t seem to change the team’s playoff luck), and has lost 86 straight entering the 2018 season.

His analysis:

 

In perfect game 5 metaphor, Nats racing presidents trade leads in lengthy, confusing obstacle course

The Washington Post’s Tom Boswell called the Nats’ final playoff game of 2017 an exhilarating, exhausting, donnybrook that “staggers even the baseball imagination.” The Nationals 9-8 deciding game 5 loss to the Chicago Cubs was a marathon filled with improbable and confusing twists and turns that were hard to process for many in attendance.

So in retrospect, the evening’s fourth inning presidents race seems perversely appropriate.

George Washington Nationals Racing President Playoffs NLDS Game 5George Washington Nationals Racing President Playoffs NLDS Game 5 obstacle courseThe race that seemed to go on forever began all the way on the third base side of the field. Abe Lincoln took an early lead, but struggled when the presidents encountered the first challenge on this obstacle course, a “dizzy bat spinning” contest.

Thomas Jefferson emerged with the lead as they approached the next obstacle, but the dinosaur in left field did little to get in the way.

Next, a shuttle run set up in right field proved a challenge for Tom and Teddy, but our first commander in chief George Washington sailed through it to take his first lead heading to the final obstacle.

If the crowd on hand wasn’t confused yet, the folding table in front of the finish line likely did the job; but George leaped over it to take the tape as the other presidents gave up and left the field for the final time in 2017.

George won all three races this postseason, with Teddy Roosevelt bringing up the rear each time. Roosevelt finished the season 0-for-84, and like the Nationals and their fans, will have to wait until 2018 for a chance at redemption.

Video for Let Teddy Win by lfahome

George Washington leaves Nationals presidents race, returns on a bicycle

Washington Nationals Racing Presidents Race George Washington cheats bicycleWashington Nationals Racing Presidents Race on bicyclesAfter stealing the Nationals’ first 2017 postseason presidents race on Friday, George Washington wasn’t taking any chances for Game 2 of the NLDS on Saturday at Nationals Park.

Another extra-long race (thanks to the national broadcast) appeared to leave Washington winded as the racing presidents approached center field, but it turned out to be yet another ruse.

After letting the other presidents pass him, the father of our country ducked into the center field gate and emerged aboard a bicycle.

The founding father then sped past Abe, Teddy, and Tom to steal another postseason win.

Teddy Roosevelt, meanwhile, lost his 85th consecutive race.

Video for Let Teddy Win by lfahome

 

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